4-inch Memory Foam Mattress Topper

A 4-inch memory foam mattress topper can be used alone as a temporary mattress, or even a permanent one if you are light in weight and/or young in years. However, it is best used on top of a firm mattress, either an inner spring or one made of foam.

This type of topper varies in quality from brand to brand, and as always, it pays to get the best one you can find and afford. The benefits of a good night’s sleep can be priceless.

The 4-inch version serves as a good test to see if you like memory foam as a sleeping surface. An entire top-quality mattress of this material can get quite expensive. If you’ve never slept on it before, this thickness will give you enough experience to help you decide on a final purchase.

Some people wonder if you can stack mattress toppers of varying firmness and thickness to make up your own mattress that is cheaper and yet more customizable than what you get in a store. You can… but it takes a little knowledge, experimentation and finesse. See more about this in the article on custom mattresses.

For temporary use, it can be placed on the floor. A wooden floor may be a bit hard, but padded carpeting would make it more comfortable.

4 inches of high quality memory foam gives you better support than 3 inches, so it makes sense to get the thicker one if you need extra comfort due to back pain, other pain issues or if you are on the heavy side.

Price: TempurPedic (best) sells one for about $800 for a queen size, but you can get decent toppers for $150 and up. If you go lower than that, you will most likely run into products that just can’t deliver the quality you need to make the topper worth buying.

For example, poor-quality memory foam is not dense enough, as it is usually made with cheap “filler” materials to make it look thick and dense. But this can’t respond to your body’s weight in the same way. A good quality memory foam has a density of 4 lbs (meaning a square-foot block of the material weighs that much). A lighter density uses less of the real (and expensive) memory foam by leaving more air space inside. The filler reduces the impression of an airy mattress, which would collapse easier under pressure during testing in the store… but adds nothing to the therapeutic quality of the mattress. And comfort is the reason you are buying it in the first place, right?

Oddly enough, neither thickness nor density determine the actual firmness level of memory foam. Firmness is measured in ILD (short for Indentation Load Deflection) and the best quality memory foam is between 13 and 15 ILD. However, this is more a technical definition than anything else, as density and thickness will have a pronounced effect on how you feel when you lie on the bed and the impression of firmness may be more important than the technicalities.

Keep in mind you can’t test a topper, as they come tightly rolled up and usually wrapped in plastic.

Can you use a thick memory foam topper on a worn out mattress? It depends on the type of wear you’re dealing with.

A very firm mattress that lacks top cushioning but is otherwise in good shape is an excellent candidate. It will provide the firm baseline support that the topper will need to give you ultimate comfort.

An old mattress that still has good springs, but the top cushioning has flattened out and the mattress has become uncomfortably hard or perhaps a bit lumpy but still basically flat and level–is also a good candidate for a 4-inch memory foam mattress.

As a general rule, a soft, sinking, caving-in old mattress indicates worn down springs or flattened out foam. These cannot be remedied with toppers because the topper itself will simply sink into the mattress surface, and you will not get the even all-over support you need.

Many people mistakenly believe that a 4-inch mattress topper, especially one made from memory foam, can compensate for an old worn out, uneven, too-soft or sinky mattress. Not so. You must understand that you will be far better off buying a reasonably priced firm mattress, perhaps a budget-style innerspring from a reputable mattress company, and placing your topper over that for ultimate comfort.

There is really only one thing you should do with a beat up old mattress that caves in… drag it to the street or alley for the “heavy item pick up guys” from your Sanitation Department to haul it away… and wave bye-bye (and good riddance).

People with pressure points and back pain caused by a too-firm sleeping surface may derive the most comfort from a nice thick memory foam topper.

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